According to the 2011 National Crime Bureau report, out of the 256,329 cases of violent crimes reported, 24,206 were rape. However, this rape could be the raping of a woman, girl or a boy because the NCRB has a separate section dedicated to crimes against woman. That particular report states that in 2011, 228,560 crimes against women were registered. The numbers speak for themselves.
So, when Nirbhaya was brutally gang-raped by four men inside a private bus in the nation’s capital, did she become another statistic? Going by the way India works, I will not be surprised. However, I hope that I am wrong.
The day Nirbhaya died, there were 20 reported rapes across the country. Not too many people reported it, but they happened. Nobody knows the victims. Nobody knows the accused. They will unfortunately become another set of numbers in the NCRB’s 2012 report.
So, what needs to be done? A candlelight vigil does not solve the problem. People lit candles at India Gate after Manu Sharma was acquitted after shooting Delhi-based model Jessica Lal. People lit candles when Mumbai was attacked on 26/11. People lit candles when those two boys, Keenan and Reubin, who tried standing up for their friends, who were sexually harassed in Andheri West, were murdered. And now, people are lighting candles for Nirbhaya.
A candlelight march shows that people stand in solidarity for the victims of these heinous crimes. However, a lot more needs to be done to ensure that these vigils are not statistics either. We need to start of by being accountable for our actions. The politician knows that with great power, there comes great responsibility. As people, we are responsible for the government we choose. We vote for them. We curse them. We vote for them again. It becomes a vicious cycle.
The most important thing needed in India today is to get rid of several archaic laws. If we talk about growth and progress, it needs to be from all directions. Talking about a 9 per cent growth in the Indian economy means nothing if Khap Panchayats, honour killing and shoving rusted rods into a girl’s intestine are still the biggest headlines today.
We need to introspect. The Indian constitution speaks of equal opportunities for all, but are the people ready to accept it? There are communities that still believe that women are chattel and turn a blind eye to a dalit getting burnt. Looking at this, one would look at India as a progressive economy with a regressive outlook.
Will we still vote for leaders based on their religious and caste-based views or on their views on the basic concept of development and basic values of democracy? Most importantly, is the media ready to assume responsibility for poor reporting?
I am certain that all this will happen in my lifetime, but until then, our lives will be nothing but statistics.